Thursday, July 31, 2014

Free is a lie - you pay and you are sold

Free is lie, says Aral Balkan in his speech at London RSA. He points out the many ways in which you lose privacy or in which the personal information you leave behind by using free internet services creates massive businesses, and makes it easier to target you as a consumer. 
It's the usual story, but told with gusto. We know it all too well. 
Balkan is trying to create an alternative web service that does not take your private info. A long shot, it seems.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My talk at Oui-share fest in Paris

The video from my talk at the Ouishare Fest in Paris this summer is now online:
How the collaborative economy challenges existing businesses. What are the challenges that companies face if they want to engage in the sharing economy? What tools and methods might make it less risky and more "normal" for a business to collaborate more widely?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Message for Tiger Mom: It's not all about being rational

Suketu Metha wrote a critique of "Tiger Mom" Amy Chua and her husband's recent book about the triple package of traits that supposedly determine one's success in life. The article was printed in Time Magazine back in february. 

Metha goes to the heart of what "success" and "achievement" means, reminding us that the disciplined and achievement focused approach to life is not always what we need. 

Here's a quote: 
"It's not conformity that makes this country great; it's an individual striking out against the expectations of his culture, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropping out of Harvard, Miles Davis coming out of heroin addiction to produce 'Round About Midnight, the 14-year-old Billie Holiday turning the pain of her childhood into the bluest beauty, Sylvia Plath taking on death with pills and poetry, William S. Burroughs writing from the bowels of his addiction in Naked Lunch; it's Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Cheever and Carver drinking and writing, writing and drinking through their demons. Imagine what American culture would be if American artists had kept a tight check on their impulses.
When people dream of moving to America, it's not just so that they can be prudent, studious, restrained. "
Suketu Metha is the author of the splendid book about Mumbai, Maximum City.

Nuclear power 2.0: Thorium - hmmm

The Economist has an article describing the virtues of Thorium reactors, which appear to be cheaper and safer than regular nuclear power. I have an old knee-jerk reaction against nuclear energy, but compared to frying the planet using coal this sounds worth exploring. 

A few quotes from the article: 

"One of the cleverest things about LFTRs is that they work at atmospheric pressure. This changes the economics of nuclear power. In a light-water reactor, the type most commonly deployed at the moment, the cooling water is under extremely high pressure. As a consequence, light-water reactors need to be sheathed in steel pressure vessels and housed in fortress-like containment buildings in case their cooling systems fail and radioactive steam is released. An LFTR needs none of these."

"Even the waste products of LFTRs are less hazardous than those of a light-water reactor. There is less than a hundredth of the quantity and its radioactivity falls to safe levels within centuries, instead of the tens of millennia for light-water waste."

Uber controversy in Business Week

BusinessWeek ran a good story on the legal challenges following the rise of Uber - which, judging from investments from the likes of Google, is now valued at an incredible $17 bio.

Uber: The Company Cities Love to Hate

Short-term investment mindset - but long-term issues

Interesting comment by Rana Foroohar in Time Magazine
"...Wall Street distorts the economy by defining “shareholder value” as short-term returns. If a CEO misses quarterly earnings by even a few cents per share, activist investors will push for that CEO to be fired. Yet the kinds of challenges companies face today–how to shift to entirely new digital business models, where to put operations when political risk is on the rise, how to anticipate the future costs of health, pensions and energy–are not quarterly problems. They are issues that will take years, if not decades, to resolve. Unfortunately, in a world in which the average holding period for a stock is about seven months, down from seven years four decades ago, CEOs grasp for the lowest-hanging fruit". 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Why market ”penetration” closes your mind

The words we use reflect our differences in attitude and strategy.
A lot of business lingo tends to use phrases from warfare, and of course one would such phrases, if that’s how you see the game.
In a we-economy, where business involves more stakeholders, and co-creation and participation from users, the metaphors from war seem misplaced, and using them is likely to close your mind to the potential of creating value in collaboration.

Acceptance, take up